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Retiarius vs. Scissor
Retiarius vs. Scissor image

The Retiarius has just snagged your scissor on his net, and is pulling you off balance, while jabbing his trident at you. You try to twist free, as you use your gladius to hack at the net and parry the trident. If he gets you on the ground, you are finished. He will move in for the kill with his vicious, four-pronged dagger. If you could just overpower him before he lets go of the net, he might go down first.

Fans of these deadly games would argue strategy and strengths and weaknesses, just as sports fans do now. The better gladiators enjoyed fame, and could even buy their freedom with prize winnings. They were well cared for, not unlike racehorses, though few racehorses routinely fight for their lives in the arena.

In this combat, we see the nimble, lightly armored net fighter, pitted against the cleaver, who is heavily armored. The cleaver fights not only with a gladius, but also the scissor, a highly specialized weapon designed not only to cut and slash, but also to snag the net away from the retiarius. As you see, though, a fast and strong retiarius could turn that to his advantage. You can almost hear the roar of the crowd in this tense moment when it is unclear who will win, and who will ask for mercy.

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